Eight-toothed spruce bark beetle emergency in Latvia

Take note – story published 1 year ago

Latvia is preparing to announce a new state of emergency. This time, however, it will mainly apply to foresters. The weather in recent years has been particularly favorable for the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, posing a threat to forests, Latvian Television reported on February 8.

Many forest owners in Latvia have had a painful surprise: hectares of forest have quite literally been eaten away. The weather conditions in Latvia over the last two years have been favorable to bark beetles, so their population has grown rapidly, but the extent of the damage caused has become much higher. A good environment for these bugs comes after storms, with plenty of broken, damaged spruces in the woods as well as dry and long summers when several generations of insects can change in a single season.

“The situation has deteriorated dramatically over the last two years. And now it is very bad! The trouble began in 2021. Then there was a very long, hot summer and long autumn in which the second generation and the forecasts for the third generation came – a very rapid increase in damage to the forest. The spring and summer of last year put an end to everything – very, very rapidly, due to climate,” said the scientific institute's "Silava" lead researcher, Agnis Šmits.

In previous years, destruction of bark was estimated at 550 to 850 hectares, but in 2022 it increased several times, damaging approximately 2,300 hectares of spruce forest, especially in Vidzeme and Sēlija.

In light of these research data, the State Forest Service (VMD), together with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Nature Conservation Agency, and other experts on Wednesday discussed the intention of asking the government to announce a state of emergency in the forests of endangered areas.

"The aim is to protect valuable spruce groves and to limit the spread of eight-toothed spruce bark beetle,” said Andis Purs, head of the VMD Forest and Environmental Protection Division.

The bark beetles are attracted by the smell of freshly cut trees, so the main measure of the proposed emergency will be a ban of forestry in valuable spruce groves.

At the same time, it is intended to cut and remove the infested trees, which have just shown signs of bark invasion, and to set up pheromone traps to catch insects. The representatives of the Nature Conservation Agency, however, expressed concern at the time of the discussion that, under the cover of this “emergency situation”, cutting might also take place in protected nature areas.

Controlling the beetle is a matter of urgency, as it has also been known to move to pine trees when its population becomes very large. You can read more about its lifecycle at this site.

Already in 2020, a law was adopted regarding the Gauja National Park for the effective combating of the pest.

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